TeenLife Blog

Supporting teen success, one post at a time

Author: Andrew Belasco

Andrew Belasco is CEO of College Transitions LLC, a team of college planning experts committed to guiding families through the college admissions process. In addition to his role as CEO, Andrew is a published higher education researcher and consultant to U.S. Congress, reporting on issues related to college admission and financial aid policy. For more information about Andrew and his team, please visit www.collegetransitions.com

Posted July 25, 2016, 2 p.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
5 Simple Ways to Jumpstart Your College Application This Summer

Whether your summer plans involve flipping burgers or lounging at the shore, we recommend five simple steps that won’t overly-detract from your summer but will give you a leg up in the college admissions process come the frenetically-paced autumn months that loom ahead. 1. Demonstrate interest. Carve out a few moments to show your prospective colleges some love. Trust us, with yield-rate statistics causing admissions officers many restless nights, making schools feel wanted can leave a favorable impression. Whether or not a student showed interest in the form of a campus visit, an email, or time surfing the university website ...

Posted April 14, 2015, 8 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
So You Want to Be a Teacher

Welcome to installment three of College Transitions’ “So you want to be a...” series. Designed to help career-minded high school students think intelligently about their postsecondary journeys, these blogs will look at the financial, academic, and personal factors one should consider when exploring various professions. Does going to a prestigious undergraduate school help? Breaking into the teaching field is numerically a very different endeavor than landing a job in the highly selective worlds of law, medicine, engineering, etc. There are presently 3.7 million people making their living as primary or secondary school teachers in the United States. Almost 90% of ...

Posted April 8, 2015, 9 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Is College Still Worth the Investment?

We’ll save the drama—even in an era of bloated tuition costs, ballooning student loan debt, and a weakened American job market, the answer to the general question of whether a college degree is still worth the investment remains a resounding, “Yes.” Yet, this affirmative answer is saddled with a Barry Bonds-sized asterisk; not every degree from every school for every individual is actually worth the investment. A more extensive and more personalized examination is necessary to be of any useful guidance. We begin that examination, with a basic question: is today’s average college graduate still better off than an average ...

Posted March 27, 2015, 8 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
The Gap Year: Things to Consider

Back in the 80s, parents’ worst nightmare was that their flaky Gen-X teens would defer entry into college, stating that they first needed to “find themselves.” After a year of goat herding in the Himalayas, being one with nature, and going on nightly vision quests, the best some parents could hope for is that their sons and daughters would eventually return, ready to hit the books, embrace Alex P. Keatonesque values, and eventually end up as Wall Street wolves. While absurd, this introduction offers a kernel of truth – In the absence of proper nomenclature, a desire to step off ...

Posted March 19, 2015, 9 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
The Life-Altering Impact of Student Loan Debt

Particular adjectives frequently accompany sound bites and headlines on the topic of student loan debt—“crippling,” “burdensome,” and “overwhelming,” just to name a few. Student loan debt is a “crisis,” people are drowning in it, and it is seen as a threat to the economy at large. It is hard not to come away with an appropriate level of concern regarding student loan debt, yet, in admissions cycle after admissions cycle, swarms of college applicants continue to make decisions that set themselves up to be just as financially crippled, burdened, and overwhelmed in adulthood as the headlines forewarned. The first question ...

Posted Jan. 29, 2015, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
college away from home

A recent study by Niche reveals that the majority of college-bound students (58 percent) choose schools within 100 miles of their home, while only 11 percent opt for an institution more than 500 miles away. In our increasingly mobile society, this finding is somewhat surprising, perhaps even discouraging. Although remaining close to home for college can seem the more comfortable and convenient option, there are significant benefits associated with casting a wider net. Most notably, a willingness to travel can lead to improved admissions prospects and better financial aid offers. Why? Because colleges crave geographic diversity. Download College Away from ...

Posted Jan. 22, 2015, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
estimating college costs

A few months ago, I noticed that my cable bill had crept up into uncharted territory. After calling the cable company and enduring twenty straight minutes of advertisements for Horrible Bosses 2, I eventually had the opportunity to express my concern that my monthly payment had increased $80 since last year and that I had, in that time, received a) no additional channels or services or b) no explanation for the hefty mark-up. Without hesitation the representative immediately told me about a new “limited time offer” where I would receive every premium channel AND pay roughly $100 less per month. ...

Posted Dec. 8, 2014, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
application tips to avoid

With the majority of college application deadlines looming, it’s important to perform a thorough review of your applications to make sure an easily identifiable mistake doesn’t cost you an acceptance letter. Serious colleges want serious applicants, and a short-sighted error can spell disaster for your admission prospects. Below are our top 5 college application mistakes you’ll want to avoid before submitting your application: 1. Typos Let’s start with the most obvious mistake — the dreaded typo. In life, they happen. Autocorrected texts can turn your “dear friend” into your “dead friend” and bad grammar can mean the difference between knowing ...

Posted Nov. 28, 2014, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
depression on college application

Between the ages of 13 and 18, approximately 20% of American adolescents will deal with some form of mental illness. Under this umbrella falls anything from minor depression or anxiety all the way to potentially more serious conditions like pediatric schizophrenia or post traumatic stress disorder. For many, dealing with a mental health condition will negatively impact their high school career in some way, potentially impacting areas such as academic performance, school attendance, teacher relationships, and extracurricular involvement. Given the prevalence of mental illness among teenagers, a significant number of high school seniors are faced with a difficult choice each ...

Posted Oct. 29, 2014, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Mastering the “Why This College” Essay

Many colleges and universities require you to compose an essay on why you wish to attend their school. If you are using Common Application, chances are you will have to submit a version of this essay as a writing supplement to one of the prompts required by the Common App. While it is a relatively generic and rather dull question, do not be lulled into delivering an equally generic and dull answer. Download Refrain from offering superlatives without specific evidence to back up your praise. Imagine an admissions officer, at the end of a long day’s work, getting ready to ...

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